Chefs Take a Stand Against Seafood Fraud

Written by on November 11, 2012 in Policy & Ocean Law

Over the last year, Oceana has revealed widespread seafood fraud in major U.S. cities.  Now, over 500 restaurant owners, including top chefs and icons like Mario Batali, Jacques Pepin, Rick Bayless and Daniel Boulud, signed Oceana’s petition against seafood fraud.

The letter was led by sustainable chef Barton Seaver, a National Geographic Fellow and author of “For Cod and Country.”

“Seafood mislabeling is one of the most important issues currently facing the culinary industry,” explained Seaver. “It’s an honor to join this list of distinguished names in a plea for a nationwide traceability system that will not only help preserve ocean ecosystems for future generations, but will also increase profits and keep illegal fish out of our restaurants.”

In Los Angeles, 9 out of 10 samples in sushi venues were mislabeled.

In Los Angeles, 9 out of 10 samples in sushi venues were mislabeled. Photo credit: Zeetz Jones via photopin cc.

Between May and December of 2011, Oceana staff and supporters collected seafood samples from restaurants, sushi venues and grocery stores across Los Angeles. DNA testing confirmed that 55 percent of the 119 seafood samples collected were mislabeled.

Their findings:

  • 100% of fish labeled “snapper” were mislabeled (34 out of 34)
  • Almost nine out of every ten sushi samples were mislabeled
  • Fraud was detected in 11 out of 18 different types of fish

They have also completed seafood fraud studies in Boston and Miami.  They found that, of the samples, 48 percent in Boston and 31 percent in Miami were mislabeled.

“These chefs and restaurant owners are taking a stand and saying, ‘Enough is enough.  We need better information about our seafood in the U.S.  We need traceability,’” said Beth Lowell, campaign director at Oceana.  “Tracing our seafood from boat to plate is the only way to ensure that it’s safe, legal and honestly labeled.”

To learn more:

Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .


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